When evaluating the move into partnering with third-parties for application development, the sheer array of options can make the process overwhelming. There is no authoritative guide for picking the right type of partner, that we have found at least. So to make up for that, here is a starting point to evaluate the types of options you have — and where they may be a fit for you.
App Creation Software
There is a growing number of options for creating your own applications, from the uber-simple to more sophisticated offerings from Apexon partners IBM, Kony and Xamarin. This can be a good match if you’re at two very different ends of the spectrum in terms of sophistication. If you’re a complete newbie to application development, a codeless development platform can be an interesting way to dip your toes in the water. Even if you don’t get the app of your dreams, at the very least you’ll become accustomed to the logic and workflow of application development. At the very opposite end, if you’re a large enterprise with demand for a large volume of applications, a Rapid Mobile Application Development (RMAD) platform can be a useful weapon in your armory, provided that you have the technical and project management smarts already in place to manage it.
Could be right for you if: you’re dipping your toes in application development; you have internal expectations to deliver a large volume of applications
But watch out for: the varying ability of different platforms to tie into your back-end systems; the degree of customization that is possible; vendor lock-in; the degree to which they will mesh with existing internal development processes; the need for experienced technical leadership to bring applications to fruition
If your requirements are modest and your budget matches that, then going the freelance route could be a good option. There are tens of thousands of freelance developers that can found using a Google search or a more sophisticated marketplace like UpWork. Still, the volume of people to choose from can be bewildering. The difficulty is magnified if you don’t know application development in the first place, because how would you know what a good application developer looks like? You might find yourself sub-consciously choosing developers based on their profile photo, because, for example, they look techie yet professional. Which makes as much sense as choosing an accountant based on the fact that they wear glasses and have polished shoes. At the very least, you should interview prospective partners as rigorously as if you were hiring a key employee.
Could be right for you if: you are a small business with a modest budget; your job spec is small to moderate and very clearly defined
But watch out for: communication problems due to language or time zone; whether you will own the code; delivery times slipping due to larger concurrent projects; your budget getting over-run by extras that crop up
App Development Agencies
Obviously, these agencies didn’t exist ten years ago, but a quick Google search will now throw you 22 million entries for your perusal. It’s almost unfair to lump them all together as there is such a broad spectrum of capabilities within this world. Alongside this, the range in pricing is likewise vast. Some will be very happy to throw together an application for a few thousand and some wouldn’t get out of bed for less than a couple of hundred thousand. If we can be a little unfair and lump them together for a moment, the key aspect to point out is that you can expect more front-end and UI design smarts than knowledge of back-end enterprise IT systems and their integration.
Could be right for you if: you are looking for primarily consumer-focused, design-led applications; you don’t have any in-house software development capabilities; you don’t intend to develop in-house development capabilities
But watch out for: shocks in pricing; lack of enterprise IT integration knowledge; being “handled” by less technical Account Executives or Managers
Mobility and IoT Specialists
This is a very select group, in which Apexon is arguably the leader. The focus here is enterprise-level companies as well as a growing body of smaller, high-growth businesses that need enterprise-level sophistication in mobility and IoT. Apexon is focused on “strategic execution”. The level of technical competence is sky-high, and everything is done against a strategic blueprint which clearly maps out the business results you need to achieve, which is why we’ve been chosen by so many global brands. As a partner, we’re helping a lot of companies address software development growing pains as they look to improve or execute agile development, CI/CD or the transition from QA to Quality Engineering.
Could be right for you if: you need to evolve your internal software development processes, if you have technical challenges that other companies cannot address; you’re looking to do something that hasn’t been done before; you need a high-level of technical expertise; you need very fast turnaround
But watch out for: hey, we’re completely biased here, but we can’t think of any drawbacks!
Global Services Companies
These are the “big guys”, globally recognized names with a brand name and expertise extending well beyond app development and mobility. Although some of them are fairly late to the mobility game, when you have their budgets, acquiring and marketing new expertise isn’t difficult. Nonetheless, there are typically some very smart and thoughtful people that rise to the top of these firms, even if you won’t be dealing with them day to day. One of the major benefits of working with some large services companies is also one of their major drawbacks — and that’s process. They’ve got a lot of it. That’s great when you’re lacking it and needing it. But when speed and agility is what you need, they may not be the right fit.
Could be right for you if: application development and mobility is just one aspect of outsourced business and technical consultancy you need; you have huge budgets; you’re not in a rush
But watch out for: who pitches you versus who actually works with you; working their systems rather than your needs; time to delivery; huge budgets; assuming that all your problems are being handled without oversight
We hope that is a useful starting point for your research. And if you want to know what we’re capable of, send us a note.
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